In part one of of this series we discussed how Children’s Pastors and their ministries can be easily disrespected and how it is our responsibility to earn the respect of our church. Part two suggested several ways we can gain respect for our children’s ministries. This third and final part will focus on a some things you can do to gain respect as a minister yourself.
Let’s recall that in previous posts we came to the conclusion that respect is earned not owed. It’s not automatic. Many children’s ministers get so focused on the intensity of their work that they forget about some of the basics. And those basics are keeping folks at bay.
I find myself comparing a children’s ministry to a cake. A basic cake has two parts. Cake and icing. Some children’s ministries are all icing. They look great on the outside, but they’re empty inside and have nothing beyond the technology and hype. Other children’s ministries are the cake without the icing. They’re not much to look at… but they’re actively loving and training kids and families to be more Christ-like. Though I respect “cake” ministries over “icing” ministries it’s important that your “cake” ministry has a little “icing” too. There are things you can do to dress-up the image of your ministry and yourself as a minister that will make what you do more attractive to those who are outside and may not understand how much work you put into your “cake”.
Dress to impress
In the business world they say, “Don’t dress for the job you have. Dress for the job you want.” Well we already have the job we want so it doesn’t apply to our situation 100% but it allows me to make a point. Dress for the respect you want, not for the respect you have… or for comfort.
I still struggle with this one myself. I’m not the skinny hip guy with a printed collared shirt that seems to be populating much of children’s ministry these days. I don’t fit in hipster clothes (read: athletic fit). I want to minister in comfort. I also do a lot of “running” on Sundays and I get sweaty. I want to minister is something that breaths. I also get lots of hugs from kids who transfer God only knows what from their faces to my clothing. I want to minister in something that I don’t have to dry-clean every single week. I’m comfortable in nice jeans or kakis and a button up collared shirt… but I don’t look much like a pastor. I probably need to be wearing a suit each week regardless of my own comfort or fear of cleaning bills.
Go to Big Church
You need to be in big church at least once a month. You need to be on stage doing something as well. Open with prayer, take the offering, do the announcements. Get your face up there where people are used to seeing the “real” pastors. People will begin to feel they know you.
You also need to be ministered to by your pastor. I recently moved my monthly Sunday because I had chosen a week pastor typically puts guest speakers in. Nothing against them, I want to hear the heart of my own pastor. How else can I stay connected to what God is doing in my church if I’m not even a regularly attending member. Plus, I get to sit with my smoking-hot wife on the front row.
After all that children’s ministers do in a week it’s typically impossible to imagine doing anything else associated with the church. After all, why should I go to the homeless feeding or help with the all-church clean-up day? No one’s going out of their way to help me. Well, maybe I know why now.
You have to sew what you want to reap. You’ve got to become an involved and helpful person in order to attract involved and helpful people. Plus, it’s just one more chance to let people see your dedication, not just to your own ministry, but to the church as a whole. So join Men’s or Women’s ministry (that’s what God made me do). Work the hardest on the church work day. Go see the church play, even if it stinks.
Sometimes children’s pastors find that their confidence in speaking leaves them when they’re not talking to children. When a family would pass me in the hallway, for instance, I would address the children and only give a glancing hello (if that) to the parents. This made me look very socially challenged I’m sure. Sure I’m more comfortable talking to children, but I’m not afraid of adults. I am one, and so are you.
We’ve got to realize that we’re not really a Children’s Pastor. We’re a Pastor who works with Children. My pastor understands this. That’s why my official title at the church is Associate Pastor of Children. So I’m not just the children’s pastor, I’m one of the parent’s pastors too. I greet the parents first, then their children. It’s more respectful and it puts you on level with the other associate pastors. Plus, I’ve found that often times I get the same excited look in a parent’s eyes when they see me as I’m accustomed to seeing in their children. It’s a good thing to see.
I hope this article series has been of help to you. I’d love to get your comments and feedback especially if you put any of these suggestions into practice. God bless.